Visayan Warty Pig Conservation Programme
You might miss the small facial warts on a Visayan Warty Pig (Sus cebifrons), but the distinct tuft of hair on its crown will definitely catch your eye. Males grow this tuft into a mane during breeding season. Formerly regarded as a subspecies of S. philippensis, the Philippine Warty Pig, it was elevated to a full species in 1997. Two subspecies of S. cebifrons are now recognized, but the Cebu form has become extinct. The Negros form (S. c. negrinus) has been extirpated from most of its range in the Negros-Panay faunal region. Today, wild populations can only be found in remaining forest fragments on Negros and Panay Islands. On Masbate Island, numbers are so sparse it is feared to be functionally extinct. Habitat loss is not the only culprit for this decline; illegal hunting for its valuable meat and genetic contamination by domestic pigs are also grave problems. With extinction looming, PBCFI offers a ray of hope with comprehensive intervention programmes. The Visayan Warty Pig Conservation Programme (VWPCP) was established in 1992, with support from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) of the Philippines government and the Zoological Society of San Diego (ZSSD, USA). This rescue mission entails conducting wide-ranging field research and education awareness campaigns, establishing new Protected Areas, capacity-building among locals, as well as providing assistance to threatened species rescue and breeding centres.
Both Mari-it and NFEFI-BCC have been successful with the breeding of this species, maintaining genetically diverse populations with several recent births by wild-born parents. The breeding programme will ensure the availability of pure-bred founder populations for future reintroduction projects. The Visayan Warty Pig is a candidate for reintroduction in sevearl areas on Negros and Cebu. Current reintroduction activities are focussing on Sicogon Island with an ongoing pilot project involving Visayan Tarictic Hornbills and Philippine Spotted Deer. On this island, Visayan Warty Pigs still exist.
Development of Protected Areas
Field ResearchAlthough the Visayan Warty Pig is fully protected by Philippine law, enforcement is poor even in the Protected Areas. To this end, PBCFI looks to enhance the management of these areas while assisting the establishment of further Local Conservation Areas and private nature areas. Areas identified as potential sites for reintroduction projects will also be given additional attention. At the same time, it is also necessary to raise local awareness, especially with regards to the protection legislation of the species and the impact of hunting.
Studies on the taxonomy distribution and status of Philippine wild pigs were conducted between 1993 and 1995, following the initiation of the VWPCP in 1992. A reassessment of the current population status on Masbate is required. The population variation amongst surviving individuals on Negros and Panay will also be studied.